NEW YORK, United States, Friday October 12, 2018 – Describing the man behind the disastrous Fyre Festival in the Bahamas as “a serial fraudster”, a judge in New York yesterday jailed him for six years for engaging in multiple fraudulent schemes.
Billy McFarland’s sentencing came months after he pleaded guilty ,under a plea deal, to wire fraud, bank fraud and making false statements to a federal law enforcement agent.
He had admitted in a Manhattan federal court to defrauding investors of US$26 million in the highly publicized, failed music bash which had been slated to take place on the Bahamian island of Exuma over two weekends in April and May 2017, and over $100,000 in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme.
The Fyre Festival turned out to be a nightmare for patrons who had shelled out up to US$12,000 for tickets and booked festival/accommodation packages costing up to US$400,000.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said yesterday that McFarland, 26, has shown “a disturbing pattern of deception, which resulted in investors and customers losing over US$26 million in two separate fraud schemes”.
“As he had previously admitted, Billy McFarland did not deliver on his promises to his investors and customers. Today, McFarland found out the hard way that empty promises don’t lead to jet-setting, champagne, and extravagant parties – they lead to federal prison,” Berman added.
Sentencing McFarland yesterday, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said: “The defendant is a serial fraudster and to date his fraud, like a circle, has no end. Mr McFarland has been dishonest most of his life.”
Addressing the court, McFarland said he knew he had “betrayed the trust of my investors, my customers, my family”, and his sentencing was an “extremely bitter reality”.
Following his prison term, McFarland will have three years of supervised release.
He also had to forfeit US$26 million.